AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) said starting tomorrow it will begin taking pre-orders for the BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Z10, BlackBerry's flagship smartphone. Separately, T-Mobile USA said it will start letting enterprise customer pre-order the device as well. The actions give more traction to BlackBerry's hopes for a U.S. comeback.
As had been rumored, AT&T will start selling the Z10 on March 22 for $199.99 with a two-year contract. That pricing is less aggressive than AT&T has given for some other major flagship device launches--AT&T began selling the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 900 in April for $99 with a two-year contract.
T-Mobile noted that the Z10 will be available for pre-order for business customers starting today for $249.99 on a two-year Classic plan. "Please note that pricing can be impacted by volume discounts and other factors, making the device even more cost effective," T-Mobile said in a statement to Engadget. "The consumer retail availability date and pricing will be shared at a later date."
T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert told the Wall Street Journal that the Z10 will be widely available in the carrier's stores and other outlets by the end of the month. T-Mobile's pricing, at least for business customers, is notable in light of the fact that the carrier is moving away from its Classic plans sometime this year, which offer traditional smartphone subsidies, in favor of its Value plans that do not have subsidies.
The Z10 runs on BlackBerry's brand new BlackBerry 10 software and has a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, a 4.2-inch display with 1280 x 768 resolution, an 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p HD video, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and LTE.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has said it will launch the Z10 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, but did not give a release date. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will not sell the Z10, a move that makes Sprint the only Tier 1 U.S. carrier that will not carry the device. Sprint has committed to selling the BlackBerry Q10, which runs BB10 and has a Qwerty keyboard.
BlackBerry said one-third of new BlackBerry 10 customers are switching to the platform from other smartphone operating systems. The conversion rate is higher than the company had anticipated, according to Rick Costanzo, Blackberry's executive vice president of global sales.
BlackBerry started selling the Z10 in the United Kingdom at the end of January and has expanded sales steadily since then. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins and other executives have said they are particularly encouraged by early sales in the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as India. BlackBerry could provide specific Z10 sales figures in its earnings announcement, scheduled for March 28.
- see this AT&T release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Engadget article
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